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John Whorf (1903-1959)

John Whorf (1903-1959)

Influenced and inspired by the idyllic surroundings of Cape Cod, John Whorf is considered one of the finest American watercolourists of the early twentieth century. His vibrant colours, layered brushstrokes and subtle use of light and shadow suggest parallels with the likes of Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper. He achieved considerable success in his own lifetime, staging sell-out shows across America from the age of 21, and counting John Singer Sargent amongst his patrons.

John Whorf was born in Winthrop, an oceanside suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, on 10 January 1903. His father, Harry C Whorf, was a commercial artist and graphic designer who introduced John to painting and drawing from an early age, while at home his mother Sarah Edna (née Lee), encouraged John and his brothers Benjamin and Richard to paint and draw as much as possible, even allowing the children to draw and paint on the walls of the house. At the age of 14, Whorf began formal artistic training at the St Botolph Studio in Boston, and later the same year at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, studying drawing under Philip Leslie Hale and painting under William James.

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